Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Woodland Creation Included in UK's Low Carbon Transition Strategy

The UK has released its Low Carbon Transition Plan. The Plan plots out how the UK will meet the cut in emissions set out in the budget of 34% on 1990 levels by 2020.

The Plan includes strategies for reducing emissions from agriculture and waste as well a strategy for "protecting, managing and growing our forests." This latter strategy is actually focused solely on an initiative to support the creation of new woodlands. Here is an excerpt:

Protecting, managing, and growing our forests
In 2007, forests in England removed a net total of about 2.9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This removal rate is declining, as forests planted in the 1950s to 1980s reach maturity. If woodland creation and removal continue at their 2007 rates, it will drop to around half a million tonnes per year by 2020, and if woodland creation stops entirely it will fall to only a hundred thousand tonnes.

Woodland creation is a very cost-effective way of fighting climate change over the long term, but it requires an upfront investment. The Government is already doing this: woodland creation represents 60% of the grant aid administered by the Forestry Commission. But to realise the potential for 2050, we need to see a big increase in woodland creation – and we need to plant
sooner rather than later.

The Government will support a new drive to encourage private funding for woodland
creation. If we could create an additional 10,000 hectares of woodland per year for 15 years, those growing trees could remove up to 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide between now and 2050. Well-targeted woodland creation can also bring other benefits, including a recreational resource, employment opportunities, flood alleviation, improvements in water quality, and helping to adapt our landscapes to climate change by linking habitats to support wildlife. The Government will ensure that woodland creation policies continue to respect the benefits and demands of landscape, biodiversity and food security.

This will allow businesses and individuals to help the UK meet its carbon budgets, whilst
delivering the other benefits that woodlands can bring. A number of informal schemes already exist, and the Government will work with them and with the private sector to consider how it can build on and complement existing initiatives. The Government is already laying the groundwork: including through the consultation on a Code of Good Practice for Forest Carbon Projects led by the Forestry Commission, and the Government consultation on corporate carbon reporting guidelines, which sets out how funding for domestic emissions reduction projects can be reported in company accounts.
Reference: The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan: National strategy for climate and energy. Chapter 7: Transforming farming and managing our land and waste sustainably. Page 160-161.

It's interesting that there is nothing in the plan for forest protection or management... perhaps this reflects the fact that only 7% of England is forested? (ref)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Breaking story - watch this footage on bioenergy clearcuts

Perhaps not good form to do two blog posts in a day, but you should watch this news story before it comes down this evening: this is the first publicized example of the impact that a bioenergy market will have on Canadian forests, this time in Nova Scotia. Watch the CBC news for July 8 2009 starting at 34:09.

U.S. Defines Forest and Agriculture Carbon Offset Projects

The American Clean Energy and Secrurity Act recently approved by the U.S. House of Representatives provides an initial list of offset project types that would be eligible to sell credits into the cap-and-trade system.

It seems a rather broad list designed to encompass all activities. Rules are to be set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Section 503. List of Eligible Domestic Agricultural and Forestry Offset Practice Types.

“…(b) INITIAL LIST.—At a minimum, the list prepared under this section shall include those practices that avoid or reduce greenhouse gas emissions or sequester greenhouse gases, such as—

  1. agricultural, grassland, and rangeland sequestration and management practices, including

a) altered tillage practices;

b) winter cover cropping, continuous cropping, and other means to increase biomass returned to soil in lieu of planting followed by fallowing;

c) reduction of nitrogen fertilizer use or increase in nitrogen use efficiency;

d) reduction in the frequency and duration of flooding of rice paddies;

e) reduction in carbon emissions from organic soils;

f) reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from manure and effluent; and

g) reduction in greenhouse gas emissions due to changes in animal management practices, including dietary modifications;

  1. (2) changes in carbon stocks attributed to land-use change and forestry activities, including—

a) afforestation or reforestation of acreage that is not forested;

b) forest management resulting in an increase in forest carbon stores including but not limited to harvested wood products;

c) management of peatland or wetland;

d) conservation of grassland and forested land;

e) improved forest management, including accounting for carbon stored in wood products;

f) reduced deforestation or avoided forest conversion;

g) urban tree-planting and maintenance;

h) agroforestry; and

i) adaptation of plant traits or new technologies that increase sequestration by forests; and

  1. (3) manure management and disposal, including—

a) waste aeration;

b) biogas capture and combustion; and

c) application to fields as a substitute for commercial fertilizer.”

American Clean Energy And Security Act of 2009. AMENDMENT TO H.R. 2454, AS REPORTED OFFERED BY MR. PETERSON OF MINNESOTA (Page and line numbers refer to the file ACESFLl001 (HR 2998) on the Rules Committee website). Pages 15 – 17.